Showing posts with label eleanor morse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eleanor morse. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

It's that time of year, y'all!  All those Best Books lists are being released, and I am never one to be left out of the fun and games.  So without further ado...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

As happened last year, I had an immensely difficult time compiling this list.  It took me ages to narrow it down to just 10 books that I've read in the last year.  But I managed, and here they are (in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews):

1. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
I went into this novel with hesitation, because I hadn't done a heavy classic in a while.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.  An amazing coming-of-age tale that is going to stick with me for a long, long time.

2. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
I am admittedly biased because I love food memoirs, and I love the Food Network this was a match made in heaven for me from the start.  Either way, it deserves a spot on this list, if only because Samuelsson's journey is so unique and inspiring.

3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
As an avid Picoult fan, I had high expectations for this one, and was not disappointed in the least.  I've read a lot of Holocaust-based historical fiction...this is one of the better ones I can remember coming across.

4. White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Beautiful, picturesque, gorgeous, awesome-sauce writing is the #1 reason why this made it on the list.  The captivating story is a bonus.

5. Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
If there was a book that should be on everyone's list for great character development, this is it.  Beautiful prose, and makes me feel like one of my 2014 resolutions should be to read more of Daniel's stuff.

6. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
This book tugged at my mommy heartstrings.  HARD.

7. Cooked by Michael Pollan
I continue to be wow'ed by the depth of Pollan's food-based research, combined with his entertaining commentary along the way.  He makes me feel smarter...and hungrier.

8. We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Another epic family drama from Lamb.  He has yet to disappoint me.

9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The unsettling tone of this novel is still creeping me out.  The ending was awesome.  I am not quite as in awe of this one as I was of Gone Girl, but ohsoclose.

10. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This book should be required reading for every pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant woman out there.  How I wish I had this to counterbalance all the crazy pregnancy books I read when I was knocked up with Small Fry!  At least Tater Tot is reaping the benefits now.

That's the list for this year, readers!  And now you've got 14 more days to buy them for your friends and family before Christmas.  You can thank me later.

What made YOUR best-read list for 2013?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Let The Door Hit Ya, February: Month in Review

UGH.  February.  What a craptastic month.
Likeness of me in February
I didn't THINK it was going to go that way, but it did.  I got slammed with a pretty awful personal situation in the middle of the month, something that really knocked me for a loop.  I am not ready to post about it here yet, but I think I will in the future.  For now, suffice to say that it just made last month into a very difficult one.

As such, I apologize for my relative absence.  I know my posts have been kind of "blah" lately, and that I've been Twitter MIA, but the calendar has flipped to March and I am going IN LIKE A LION!!  Watch out, world.  Rawr.

(I guess I should say that there was ONE good thing about February, and that was the creation of the Harlem Shake.  I could sit on YouTube for HOURS and watch this crap.  Amazing.)

Anyway, let's talk about books!

The February 2013 Fave/Least Fave honors go to:

February 2013 Favorite: Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
February 2013 Least Favorite: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
Political Suicide by Michael Palmer
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of the Good Night Our World books.

In other book talk, we discussed cover snobbery, I was spotlighted by Christine, I had another fun giveaway, and I MET JODI PICOULT.  Total highlight of my book month!

So, here's hoping for a much better March.  Peace out, February.  Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (19)

Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words from some of my recent reads. All definitions from

1. ziggurat. "As we skirt the vast orange ziggurat of Sainsbury's, a man behind the wheel of a huge lorry waves his arms angrily, as if to sweep us out of his line of vision."  (from The Uninvited by Liz Jensen)

(among   the   ancient   Babylonians   and   Assyrians)   a   temple   of   Sumerian   origin   in   the   form   of   a   pyramidal  tower,   consisting   of   a   number   of   stories   and   having   about   the   outside   a   broad   ascent   winding   round   the  structure,   presenting   the   appearance   of   a   series   of  terraces .

I believe the author was trying to convey how maze-like and confusing the area was.

2. internecine. "The internecine commenter strife fails to make me feel any better about the post, so I turn back to my final duties for the day."  (from Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose)

1. of or pertaining to conflict or struggle within a group: an internecine feud among proxy holders.
2. mutually destructive.
3. characterized by great slaughter; deadly.

The character was referring to a battle going on between commenters on her blog post.

3. duiker. "Over her shoulder was slung a rough bag, made from the hide of a duiker."  (from White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse)

any of several small African antelopes of the  Cephalophus, Sylvicapra,   and related genera, the males and often the females having short, spikelike horns: some are endangered.

There's your African zoology lesson for the day!

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (17)

Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words, from White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse. All definitions from

1. veldt. "He lay down in the sun and dreamt troubled dreams, of pursuit, of open veldt that gave no cover or shelter."

the   open   country,   bearing   grass,   bushes,   or   shrubs,   or   thinly   forested,   characteristic   of   parts   of   southern  Africa.

I feel like I've learned this word before (maybe in a high school geography class), but I couldn't place the definition.

2. avuncularity (avuncular). "She thought of asking him to quit the avuncularity."

of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an uncle avuncular affection.

I didn't expect this fancy-sounding word to have such a simple meaning.

3. aesthete. "Then there was Drew with the bad reputation, and Zachary, the aesthete, and Brandon with the beautiful, sad eyes."

1.  a person who has or professes to have refined sensitivity toward the beauties of art or nature.
2.  a person who affects great love of art, music, poetry, etc., and  indifference to practical matters.

Might be my favorite of the week.  Easy to spot the root of 'aesthetic' in this one.

What are your new words this week?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse

Title: White Dog Fell From The Sky
Author: Eleanor Morse
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: January 3, 2013
Source: ARC received from publisher for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

In apartheid South Africa in 1976, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to follow her husband to Africa. When Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.

My Review:

Let's cut to the chase here: I loved this book.  I had no idea what to expect going in (as we know from previous posts, I do not often read the full description), but what unfolded in these pages was equal parts tragic, poetic, and disarming.

This is the first book I've read by Morse, and it certainly won't be the last.  Her writing stopped me in my tracks.  Having never traveled to Africa myself, Morse made Botswana come alive for me: its stark beauty, its harsh ecosystems, and its political turbulence.  However, she takes you on a journey through more than just the setting.  I felt like I was constantly on a mental trek with each character, as they worked through their own versions of love, loss, and rebirth.

The real kicker for me was the dichotomy between Alice and Isaac throughout the novel.  Their situations are so very different: Alice, a 32-year-old American expat dealing with divorce and the previously-unexplored possibility of being childless.  And Isaac, a 27-year-old South African medical student who is forced to leave his country and find a way to still support the mother and siblings he left behind.  At first, I was honestly unsure of how parallels would be drawn between these two.  Given the political and economic realities of Isaac's situation, I was afraid that Alice's problems would become petty in comparison.  However, I soon realized that Morse wasn't trying to make me compare the two.  Instead, Alice and Isaac, though both dealing with issues of loss and healing, make much of their progress throughout the novel separately, and only later do they come together and use these experiences to help each other grow.  I was so impressed with how the author managed to weave these two very different journeys together into one cohesive tale.

Beyond that, this is one of those novels that constantly makes you feel like there is some deeper meaning happening behind the scenes.  For example, White Dog (a small mutt that Isaac unintentionally adopts upon coming to Botswana): what is her purpose?  Obviously, she's a title character, so I spent a lot of time considering her place in the novel.  Is she meant to represent a higher power of some kind?  A sense of comfort even in the worst of times?  My best guess is a combination of these.  But either way, I found her presence to be an interesting stabilizer around which the rest of the novel could orbit.

Bottom line: the positively gorgeous prose is reason enough to read this novel, but Morse gives you fascinating characters and settings to boot.  A great choice for fans of The Poisonwood Bible or A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Check out some other reviews of White Dog Fell From The Sky:
Caribou's Mom
Book Belle

What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?  Any set in Africa?
Imagination Designs